Caregivers need to consider their sleep health Strategies for insomnia

Caregivers need to consider their sleep health Strategies for insomnia

Insomnia is a common problem among older adults, with up to 50% adults, age 65 and older reporting difficulty falling to sleep or staying asleep. Family caregivers, 43.5 million adults in the US according to the National Alliance for Caregiving, can experience diminished sleep quality and disruptions in normal sleep patterns. Contributing factors include stress, physical strain and erratic schedules associated with caregiving.

What is a caregiver to do?

First, consider taking a break from caregiving. No one can do it all, all the time. Reach out to friends, family and paid service providers for respite care. As a caregiver you need time off to perform well when you are ‘on’.

Family caregivers can employ a number of strategies to treat insomnia:

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist if medications could be contributing to your sleeplessness.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day to set your body’s internal clock
  • Avoid eating or drinking (especially alcohol) after 8:00 p.m.
  • Avoid napping during the day, or limit naps to 30 minutes
  • Develop a calming bedtime routine. Listen to soothing music, have a cup of “bedtime” tea, take a warm bath, or meditate.
  • Keep your bedroom free on anxiety producing stimuli, such as insurance forms and medical reports.
  • Allocate an hour of the day to deal with anxiety producing activities or concerns. Write a to-do list as well as all the concerns that are troubling you. Then put the writing away in a drawer until the next morning.
  • Exercise regularly – but not before bedtime.
  • Avoid watching TV or using a laptop, tablet, or phone right before bed.
  • Increase light exposure during the day.
  • Make sure your room is not too warm or too cold, and dark enough for deep sleep.
  • Get out of bed when you are not sleeping. If you cannot sleep, get out of bed after 20 minutes and do something relaxing, such as reading. Then try falling asleep again.

With a regular bedtime routine and the relaxation techniques mentioned above, many individuals overcome insomnia; however, sometimes medical intervention is necessary. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or other underlying health problems could also be keeping your awake. Talk to your doctor if these self-help strategies are not effective.

Sleep is an important part of your health!

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